I'm a technical analyst who uses Fibonacci time and price analysis to predict and trade the markets, but I didn't end up on Wall Street in the conventional way. I never planned any of this, but International Women's Day, I'm happy to talk about my personal journey in the financial-services business.
Here's my story:
I grew up on Long Island one of eight children. (Yes, I grew up in a Catholic family.)
I think I got lost in such a big family, and I first ran away from home at 15. I ended up back home for a couple of more years, but then I quit high school, got a job and left my family for good at the ripe old age of 17. It was great to have a simple attic apartment and to be on my own.
Blame It on the Apple Pie
My first job (besides babysitting or home typing) was at Burger King. But then I got in trouble for not asking the patrons to add an apple pie to their order and had some of my work hours taken away.
This led me to find another job using my only other skill at the time -- typing. I started working at a mail-advertising company on Long Island, essentially typing mailing labels all day long until I couldn't see straight.
Because money was tight, I then took a second job until midnight at another mail-advertising company. I worked these two jobs for about three weeks until I just about keeled over from exhaustion.
Luckily, my cousin Kathy called me and said she heard through the grapevine that I was struggling. She asked if I was interested in an interview on Wall Street, saying one job there would pay as much as the two I was working at on Long Island.
So, Kathy lent me some business clothes and got me to the interview with Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. It was 1976 and the job was to be a secretary/gopher for DLJ's government-bond department.
From Getting Coffee to Handling Futures Trades
I worked with a bunch of government-bond traders for the next couple of years. I got their morning coffee, ordered their lunches and typed their memos or whatever letters they needed to mail out.
I also spent a lot of time at the copy machine. But eventually, I got bored with these duties and asked if I could do something else.
My next job at DLJ was as a "position clerk," manually entering traders' buy and sell tickets and kept track of their positions. That also bored me, but one day, one of the traders asked if I would help him in the futures market. I agreed, and they eventually offered me a job at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, facilitating orders for futures customers.
I moved to Chicago when I was 20, and now my job (and life) were a least getting a little more exciting!
This was in the old days when you actually picked up a phone and called an order into the "pit." We either sent a hand signal into the pit to buy or sell, or when the market was slow, we'd actually write up an order ticket and send it to our brokers there to execute.
I loved working on the CME. It was a very social atmosphere, and there were lots of cute brokers on the trading floor.
After a couple of years in Chicago, I ended up going back and forth with jobs between the Chicago exchange and the New York futures exchanges. I was aggressive and always got the job done, so I kept getting promoted and my income was going up nicely. I was thinking: "This isn't bad for a high-school dropout!"
Learning Technical Analysis
Meanwhile, I developed an interest in technical analysis. I bought the paper Commodity Perspective charts that were published each week, and I started to plot market activity and learn about technical analysis via a basic course offered at the CME.
However, my real education in technical analysis didn't start until just after the 1987 Wall Street crash. The company I worked for at the time sustained large losses from the crash and cost me my fancy job as a floor manager, but fortunately, shortly thereafter I met my mentor, Robert Miner.
Bob was speaking at a seminar that a friend recommended I go to, and it seemed like a light bulb went off over my head when he started talking about using Fibonacci ratios on the time axis of the market.
I introduced myself to Bob after the conference, telling him how much I enjoyed his presentation. This led to a few cocktails that evening, then I attended his seminar the next day. What Bob was teaching was fascinating, so I jumped into my studies head-first and never looked back.
Now after I lost my job in the crash of '87, I ended up getting my Series 3 license and becoming a stockbroker, but I was terrible at it.
I hated "dialing for dollars" -- cold-calling clients and asking them for money -- and even when I had customers handed to me, I would talk them out of trades based on what I was seeing from technical analysis. That didn't seem like a recipe for success, but one day, a client offered to actually pay me for my technical analysis.
I took him up on it and decided to attempt to do technical analysis for a living. I created a single-member LLC, and while it was very slow in the beginning, many things fell into place over the next few years.
Writing for TheStreet's Real Money Premium Site
There were plenty of struggles along the way, but I guess I met the right people and my business evolved into what it is today. I was eventually invited to speak about my work at some of stock traders' conventions, and that connected me to TheStreet. I was also recruited to write a book for McGraw Hill after someone saw my presentation at a trader's expo in Las Vegas.
I'm grateful for my teachers, the awesome people I met along the way and the way synchronicities in my life brought me to a career that I truly enjoy. I love my work and it still fascinates me every day. There's always another puzzle or riddle in the market I'm trying to solve.
I'm not always going to be right, but I've been right often enough to keep my readers/subscribers? happy enough over the past 27 years or so. I never planned to do this for a living, but here I am. And I'm grateful for what I have.